I was not the kind of girl who ever dreamed of getting married, having babies, and being all housewifey or mommy-ish. Just wasn't my style. I was going to be a free spirit, free love, career girl. Well, that was my plan as a teenager. It didn't last long because at 19 I met and moved in with my husband. Much to the surprise of many, I was the first of all my friends to get married. I guess to add insult to injury, we moved away from our fast paced life in Los Angeles and found our way to the suburban midwest. I mean, I'm in the suburbs of Detroit, but still, it's the midwest. After about 3 years of marriage, I started wanting a baby. I'm not entirely sure why but here are some of the reasons I do remember: I wanted something with which I could share unconditional love, something that was part me and part my husband; I wanted my parents to be young enough to enjoy grandchildren (my dad still gushes about his relationship with his own grandfather), and I wanted my children to be able to enjoy and have a relationship with their grandparents. There's one more reason that I can think of... it just seemed like the next right thing to do. You know, first comes love, then comes marriage, then...
Before our daughter was born, my husband and I had it made. We often said that if we weren't us, we'd be jealous of us. Not to be snarky, but rather just enjoying where we "were". Moving away from LA was really quite amazing for us. We had to learn to really rely and depend on each other and we got to experience this whole new life together. It strengthened our bond. Yep, seemed like a baby was the next thing to conquer. So, we got pregnant. Like, right away. I got sick, I got better, I got glowy, I got fat. We didn't find out what we were having which was awesome and so much fun. But, I didn't need to find out because I was SO sure I was having a boy. I picked out a boy's name, painted the room blue and got all kinds of cute little green, yellow, and white clothes. Then one day I pushed and pushed and finally my baby came out. (there was more to it than that, but that's not what this post is about!!) I remember shouting for no one to tell me what it is so that my husband could be the one to tell me. I can still hear his voice whispering to me, "it's a girl". I was shocked. I gave her the boy's name anyway because, well because I could, dammit! I swore I'd never dress her in pink or anything too girly. How could I have a girl? I had no idea what I'd do with one of those! I really was shocked. That was just the beginning of the surprises that were in store for me.
Around her 6 month check up is when we were first alerted to the fact that my bird wasn't hitting milestones. We started physical therapy immediately and started seeing every specialist in town. As time went on, she'd finally hit her milestones, just really late. But, the more time that went on, the more we noticed. At 2, she wasn't talking, so we added speech therapy. At 2 1/2 she was displaying signs of sensory problems, so we added Occupational Therapy. Around 3 1/2 we finally got the Autism diagnosis and we added Play therapy and Applied Behavioral Analysis (google it. I don't have time to explain it now). We're active in "special needs" organizations and have made some pretty great connections with some pretty incredible people who are in the same boat. One of the charities we love pairs typical teens with kids with special needs. I don't know all the volunteers that have worked with my kid, but I've been stopped in the grocery store, restaurants, etc. by people who know and love my kid. I tease each new therapist that works with her that they're bound to fall in love with her. Each and every one of them tell me that they adore her and that she's become a part of their hearts. At 5 years old, my kid has already made an impact on the lives of others', just by being herself. I doubt most "typical" kids' parents hear that kind of stuff. Would I trade it all for a typical kid? Maybe. This is a tough life.
Is it all worth it? Would I do it all over again? Most days I'd tell you YES! Definitely!! But, I'd be lying if I said that I feel like that ALL the time. In fact, I kinda think any parent of any kid has at least a day or two like that.
I've gone back and forth about whether to have another child. If I was guaranteed a typical, healthy kid, I'd probably go for it. But, since I can't seem to get that guarantee, I'm out. My husband argues that we should have the chance to have a normal kid. I just can't take the risk. Some days I'm not at all concerned about having another kid like my bird. I'm scared of all the other shit out there; the rare disorders she'd been tested for while we were ruling things out; the things I've seen in waiting rooms, etc. I would like a sibling for my bird (and maybe a future caretaker!!), but I also want to be able to give 110% of myself to her and I'm not sure it would be fair to another kid. I know some siblings of people with special needs, and they do feel like it's their responsibility to care for their sibs as they age. A couple years ago I sat, waiting for my nails to dry at a salon, and an older lady (80+) told me that "the world is so big and she'll find where she fits." I think that there are so many ways that the world is growing more and more accepting of people with special needs and I really do think she'll find her fit.
So, even though my dream didn't happen exactly as I'd hoped and planned, I've turned into the most amazing mom I know. It's true. I never thought I'd be as patient, loving, and accepting as I am. I honestly surprise myself daily. Especially since I do dress her in pink every so often :)